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Swanley man lit six fires inside his home to commit suicide
A DESPERATE father of two used petrol to light six fires inside his Swanley house on the day his home was due to be re-possessed.
John Elmore, aged 54, ignited the flames himself at his address in Manse Way on March 7 this year, shortly after 7.20am.
Two teams of firefighters kicked the front door down to gain entry after a neighbour reported the fire but were unable to save Mr Elmore, who was found lying in an upstairs room.
North Kent Coroner Roger Hatch today (October 9) heard how Mr Elmore sent a text message to his former partner of 14-years, Carol Lineham, less than an hour before he set fire to his house.
The message read: “Dearest Carol - No more talking, I can’t face it anymore. When you get this message I will be dead. I will always love you. Not to have you in my life, no one to come home to or to care for - it is my end. Take care babe, John.”
The inquest heard how after Mr Elmore split with his wife in 2006 and lost his job as a driver in 2007, he threatened to take his own life.
In evidence given to police, Ms Lineham said: “He started to get jealous and possessive of me.
“He wanted to know what I was doing and where I was going all the time. I wanted to break away from it all.”
Furthermore, Kent Police Detective Sergeant Ian McCarthy explained how Mr Elmore struggled to keep up with mortgage payments and had been given a 56-day notice before his house was re-possessed.
The 56-day deadline was on March 7, the day of the fire.
Dartford fire station assistant divisional officer Mark Duly told the inquest how Mr Elmore, who was born in Lewisham, ignited a total of six fires across two floors in his house.
A seventh, which comprised a settee and the dining room table and chairs, failed to light.
Materials including tarpaulin and paper were used to stimulate the fires while four petrol containers were found in the property.
Mr Elmore was discovered upstairs in the house’s box room, with an empty petrol container less than a metre from him and a burnt shirt nearby.
Mr Duly said: “A clear silhouette of a human body was seen by crews on the first floor at the top of the stairs.
“The shirt had evidence of burning to the left sleeve and the right sleeve was folded back into itself indicating it may have been removed quickly.
“The buttons had been ripped off and were found scattered across the floor.
“The shirt may have been ignited by petrol vapour or it may have been ignited deliberately.”
Mr Elmore was taken first to Darent Valley Hospital but was later transferred to the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead, where he died the following day.
A post-mortem examination carried out at Darent Valley on March 14 concluded his cause of death to be inhalation of fire fumes.
Recording a verdict of suicide, the coroner said: “It’s clear to me on the evidence I have heard and the way in which the various fires were started that it was the intention of Mr Elmore to deliberately set fire to the property with a view to end his own life.”
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